Parents How much homework is too much?

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In reading one of the other threads on the board, I though of this question:

In regards to school, how much homework is too much?

I am starting to hear of schools that believe in very large amounts of homework. To me, 90% or more of the learning should take place in school. Here is how I break it down:
8 hour school day = 480 minutes of school x 10% (or less) = no more than 48 minutes of homework on any given night
I believe 48 minutes of homework is quite a bit. I am hearing of schools that give out 30 minutes of homework per class. At 5 classes a day, that's 2.5 hours of homework. What are these teachers doing? Are they incapable of actually teaching while the kids are in school?

I could go on forever about this, but here's the kicker. This was a trend I noticed in California and it was a problem with my 4th, 5th, and 6th graders (not my high schoolers). These children all came from different schools and all had a minimum of 25 kids in their classrooms (max of 30).

My children are very young right now, 2 years old and 3 months old. Is this how school is going everywhere now? I have a job, I don't have 2.5 hours every night to help both of my daughters with homework.
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Boy, JBS you've picked a thread that could go on forever. The school district we're in has the guideline for homework at being 10 min x the grade level(this is really more for elementary school). So, a 1st grade student/parent would expect 10 minutes of homework per night and a 5th grader could be looking at 50 minutes. The district stresses these are guidelines only though--HA! My youngest(the gymnastic one) had a 3rd grade teacher that just buried them in work and her 5th grade teacher gave almost none.

I don't agree with homework for the sake of homework or just giving assignments that are "busy" work. Of course time spent on homework will vary alot with the child just like learning a new gym skill. Some kids are more organized, school work comes easier etc. so homework isn't that big of a deal. To me the real purpose of any homework should be reinforcement of a new concept or time to review material for a test. Certainly if your child is struggling with a subject, then they may need a little extra work on it at home.
Concerning parents helping their children with homework. When a child is young, as in grade k-3 they will probably need help and guidance to do their homework and learn good study skills. By the tiem they are in the 4-6 range they should really only need supervision with the occasional hint or tip. By high school they should be able to work independently with a very minimum of input.

I have always believed that homework should be a the continuation of work done in class, and therefore children should understand the concept being worked on and require little help. I often send my kids back to school with a little note explaining that they did not understand and could the teacher please go over the work with them. I am not a teacher, I supervise but I do not teach.

I also try not to let homework interfere too much with us having a life. I have an 8 year old, soon to be 11 year old and a fifteen year old, so I have been through all levels. My kids leave for school at 8am and get home on none gym days at 5pm, on gym days between 7:30pm and 8:30pm. Weekends are busy with play dates, gym and family visits. We do not have enough hours a day to get all homework done.

Some kids also get through homework quickly, others just struggle to be motivated.

JBS, all I will say is enjoy these very early years, school really does change everything and life and grades just fly by. My 15 year old just grew taller than me.:eek:
Another big issue is teacher communication. Maybe Monday could be math homework, Tuesday could be reading, and so on.

There should never be large projects, like reports, due from different teachers at the same time (or same week). State reports and science fair projects, you'd think the school would have enough organization to get those on different weeks.:confused:
One of our local French schools assigns the weeks homework on Friday, to be completed by the following Friday. I think it is an excellent system and allows for students and parents to plan ahead.

As for communication, we have had some wonderful teachers and some not so good ones and even one who was so bad we pulled our kid from her class. It is like dealing with coaches, you need good communication lines, but they are busy people, we are busy people and we do not want our child adversley affected by our input or issues.

If I knew then what I know now I would have done many things differently concerning school, but reality is I did the best I could with the knowledge I have.

I have always worked hard to encourage good communication, respeted the teachers role in my kids life and have been as involved in the school as my life would allow.
When I was in 8th grade, I wrote an opinion piece for the student newspaper about this. It did not make me popular with the teachers (though the principal, being a staunch believer in freedom of speech, stepped in to defend me).

I agree with JBS: teachers should work under the assumption that kids have things to do when they get home; sports, reading, quality time with family, etc. To give kids a lot of homework is a massive invasion on this time which, in some cases, can be just as important to kids as school.

Kids need some time to simply get out and play and do what they want to do. They need free time.
I get a ton of homework, althogh it is partially because of my course load. my school does a version of block scheduling, so I have a class only two out of every three days(which gives you time to catch up on classwork) Also, I have 70 min periods, which typically allow for 15-20 minutes to get started on the assignment. Ap world however, is an hour every day, even the days we don't have the class, plus studying for two-chapter tests every other week. We also have "advisory", which is the only class that meets every day-for half an hour, and once a week we have a study hall in advisory. once every three school days, we have a full 70 minute study hall built in to every student's schedule, but it is still alot to handle. In my English class, we had under two weeks to read The Grapes of Wrath on our own time. It's definitely a problem, especially for myself and some of my friends who do sports-it's not uncommon for someone at my school to stay up past midnight finishing homework.
I think that homework for elementary school kids should reinforce what was learned in the classroom. IMO I do not think the elementary school homework here, for the most part, is inappropriate. I have heard of some specific situations where it was a problem, but not on the whole. Long term projects should be once in awhile, at the higher elem. school grades.

Middle school homework should include some more longer term assignments. I also like to see guided longer assignments, such as reading a whole book with smaller subprojects built in. The key is more guidance. When I was in middle school four years ago, it was appropriate IMO. My little sister didn't have any problems last year either so I assume it's largely the same here.

High usually splits into two tracks. I have no sympathy for people who insist they should be in an advanced class but then whine about the work. There's nothing wrong with taking the regular level and everyone is aware the other level comes with more work because there is more material to fit in. I took 7 IB classes both of the last two years, and I got all the homework done on time even with gymnastics. Yes, it was several hours a day. Yes, it sucked. No, I'm not a very timely person and it would have been a lot better had I not procrastinated a lot of the time. But I freely admit that and I still got it done.

What most people don't understand (in high school) is that they do have the time, because they always find it in the end. It's just that until that point, you're choosing to spend it in another way. We had no study hall, and I constantly had assignments, but I still wasted plenty of time and did what I wanted most of the time anyway. I did things during lunch, in the morning, in the car, when something wasn't happening in another class, at night, whatever. Doing or not doing homework is a choice; there are obviously consequences but most people can choose not to do SOME of it and still pass in high school. I wanted an A, so I made the choice to do all of it. If you just don't want to do any of it, then there would be no point to even being in the class, because you couldn't follow along. Personally, my deal is, I had to be there anyway. It didn't get any MORE interesting by just having no clue what was going on. So you might as well work with it and just do the homework.

This is a touchy subject with me. As a single parent with two kids I personally dont enjoy being up until midnight helping my ADHD kid with homework when I work at 7 am in the morning. MY kids spend alot of time doing homework. If the assignments were straight forward and simple great but I live in NYS. These kids have to pass 5 regents exams to get out of high school. The assignments are long and convulated and i ofyen dont see the coorulation between the subject and assignment. I went to cthoilc schools most ofmy life. I recall we had spelling homework one thign each night same with math. I think the schools should go back to thatll:eek:
I am lucky so far my kids school (well olest youngest will be in kindyin the fall)
my oldest would get her work on Friday and it was due the next thursday!!
I love that!! she would get it all done with in an hour on the weekends and it would be done and in Most Mondays
As a future teacher this thread is extremely beneficial! I'm currently and Early childhood-4th grade education major, and I've got about 1.5 years left. When I was growing up homework generally consisted of 10 min x grade level. Personally, I do not believe in giving homework that is busy work; busy work gets kids nowhere. Homework is meant to be a teaching/practice tool--it is to be used to practice and build upon what is learned in class. However, I also believe that homework should also be used to make the students think, and I feel that it should be a variety of difficult, easy, and medium questions.

Funny thing about projects being due the same day for different classes is the fact that teachers talk to one another a lot, so you'd think they would make projects due on different days. I think that abut 10-15 minutes of homework is appropriate for younger kids, 15-40ish for middle school, and about an hour-hour and a half is fine for high school kids.

"I have no sympathy for people who insist they should be in an advanced class but then whine about the work" I completely agree! If you're not willing to do the work that comes with the class, then don't take it.
I am a firm believer in study halls. Many kids misuse them, but I didn't. I completed almost all of my high school work in study halls.

As far as AP classes go....HUGE WASTE! I took a bunch of them only to find out my college wouldn't accept them. It's a wonderful thing to take AP Calc. (weighted class, I got a 5.0) in high school and have to start with trig in college.
My twin boys were in 4th grade last yr and they has 2-3 hrs a night. I hated that, it was impossible to get them to do that much after being school all day. :nightmare: Their teacher for 5th has already said that she doesnt give homework on weekends and they will have a study hall. :whew:
The trick to AP classes is ensuring that your school will accept them prior to taking the test...I took AP classes in high school, but I didn't take the AP exams. I did however take AP Calc which was run through University of Pittsburgh, so I recieved college credit for that--got me out of all my college math classes.

Sadly, too many kids misuse study halls...I think that there should be requirements for the study halls. JBS--I was the same way, I did most of my high school homework in other classes or study hall. We didn't have weighted grades, but I'm a perfectionist so I ended up with a 3.9/4.0.

2-3 hours of homework for a 4th grader is ridiculous--unless there's some studying or if the child is doing extra work. My teachers usually tried to give us harder homework so that the tests were a little easier. I personally don't care for tests too much because kids memorize the stuff for the tests then forget it the second the test is over.
my two cents

I can't see loading elementary school kids with hours of homework. I'd be happy if my dd, she'll be in 2nd grade this year, was assigned maybe 15-20 minutes everyday, just to get her in the habit of having to do it. Save the hours of homework for high school. On the other hand, and I'm probably going to aggravate some people here, I can't help but think we as a nation have become too soft on our kids and expect less from them, and they expect to get more rewards. I don't know when this started to become acceptable, but a lot of the youth today certainly believe they deserve something for nothing.
Dazed...I agree with you about being "soft" on kids. I volunteered my elementary school last summer, in the 5th grade classroom, and a lot of kids were spoon fed information. Spoonfeeding the kids information is not going to teach them, they must discover things for themselves, and have a passion for learning. I think the kids should have just enough homework to review and ingrain in their brain what they've been discussing in class. If there is a lot of homework, maybe give the kids some time in class to work on it. I am however against not giving any homework at all because that gets the kids nowhere.
Oh good golly, do not get me started on the homework! UGH! I cannot stand it, I want to know what on earth these teachers are doing all day that they cant get things done in their alloted class time? My son is going into 6th grade and it is an absolute nightmare to get him to do homework, I honestly think being in school for 7 hours per day is enough. I have two kids, they are both involved in sports-basketball and baseball for my son, gymnastics for my daughter which (as you all know) takes long hours. I work to boot. I have no idea how we are going to get it all done. Last year there were plenty of nights that we put in 2-3 hours every night. I cant even begin to think how we are going to work in games, practices and any sort of family life once school starts up again. I think 45 mins for jr high kids is PLENTY and maybe 30 mins for the younger ones.
At our school the kids do not get a "study hall" or any "homework" time during class.
Dazed...I agree with you about being "soft" on kids. I volunteered my elementary school last summer, in the 5th grade classroom, and a lot of kids were spoon fed information. Spoonfeeding the kids information is not going to teach them, they must discover things for themselves, and have a passion for learning. I think the kids should have just enough homework to review and ingrain in their brain what they've been discussing in class. If there is a lot of homework, maybe give the kids some time in class to work on it. I am however against not giving any homework at all because that gets the kids nowhere.

"No child left behind" is what we got. I could rant about it for a long time but basically, that's what it comes down to. Teachers have no choice but to drill, drill, drill because anything else is too risky. Sadly enough, it's the kids who are most likely to be left behind who need alternative instruction the most, and the schools filled mostly with kids who have no problem don't have to worry about the tests anyway. All we're doing is making the achievement gap worse IMO. There are many alternative ways of instruction that have been shown to turn schools around over the last decade. Instead of funding those, the federal government took the easy way out and created a punitive system that forces struggling schools to make unfair sacrafices and teach to the test. This system discourages innovative teaching techniques.

Anyway I'm not even sure what kind of homework you could give an elementary schooler for several hours. At that point it ceases to become productive because they don't have that kind of attention span or ability and they will likely give up earlier in the assignment knowing they still have a lot left, than if they had an amount they saw as doable.
so far my kids have not gotten a lot of homework well for them it takes 10 mn on the average to get it all done!! and that is 1 weeks worth (mind you my youngest is going to kindy) she will get the same homework on Fridays and due the next Thursday!! If they have some free time and are all done with there other homework they are expected to read or I have owrkbooks to supplement at home!! I dont mind the amount they get sinceI see they have done the work at school already the homework my kids get are for them to show family what they have leared and also to reinforce it. they are expected to read each night as well!!

Like I said I like the way they get work then have a week to get it done!! it helps since some days things get too late and I get my kids to bed earlier than most! (7pm~ tho its getting closer to 8 cause of gymnastics!!) so on weekends they can get there work done with out compromising there sleep!! they will NOT learn if they dont get the proper sleep!!
gymdog, I agree with you about the "no child left behind." I think it's a joke. The schools suffer and the kids suffer. There are better ways to go about getting children to succeed in school with out using punishment by not funding already hurting schools if they don't meet requirements.

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